Yoga is more than a stress buster. It makes you look and feel younger

Eight years ago, when Sharon Gothard Weisman turned 40, backaches, dark under-eye circles, forgetfulness, and fatigue made her feel more like 60. In the hope of finding relief, Weisman took a yoga class. An hour later, she felt more relaxed than she had in years. She's been doing yoga thrice a week since. “I have more energy, strength, and flexibility than most women half my age,” she says.

Many women try yoga for stress reduction, but they stick with it because it makes them feel — and look — younger, says Larry Payne, Ph.D., a yoga director at Loyola Marymount University and co-author of Yoga Rx.

Unlike traditional exercise, yoga blends moves that improve circulation, balance, flexibility, and strength with meditative techniques such as deep breathing. “My students call yoga a natural face-lift,” he says. “It cleanses, relaxes, and restores.”

Here's how yoga slows the signs of ageing:

Minimises wrinkles

Yoga can reduce stress by nearly a third, reports a German study of 24 women. As a result, clenched jaws and furrowed brows relax, helping to smooth away wrinkles. Yoga may also rejuvenate skin's glow by reducing oxidative stress, which breaks down skin's elasticity. In an Indian study of 104 people, oxidative stress levels dropped by nine per cent after just 10 days of yoga.

Slows weight gain

During a 10-year University of Washington study of 15,500 men and women over age 45, those who didn't do yoga gained up to 13.5 pounds. Those who practised regularly lost up to five pounds.

Eases pain

Yoga is twice as effective as stretching at relieving back pain, according to another University of Washington study that had 101 people with lower-back pain do either yoga or stretching once a week for three months.

Helps you sleep like a baby

Levels of the brain's natural night-time sedative, melatonin, decrease with age, but another Indian study found that when 15 men, aged 25 to 35, practised yoga daily for three months, their melatonin levels increased.

Keeps you sharp

Researchers at Jefferson Medical College discovered that just one yoga class helps keep the stress hormone cortisol in line. Elevated amounts may contribute to age-related memory problems.

NYT NEWS SERVICE

Keywords: Yogafitness

RELATED NEWS

Gym dos and don'tsAugust 11, 2010

That vital dipAugust 7, 2010

For that powerAugust 11, 2010